Height/Weight: 6’3, 190 lbs
Jared Butler is a very smart and skilled point guard who’s NBA draft stock skyrocketed after leading Baylor to a historic season during his sophomore campaign. Butler is the epitome of consistency, and a large portion of the Bears’ success this season can be attributed to his ability to score, run the offense, and play strong defense on a nightly basis.
Butler is a highly intelligent player and is very crafty with the ball in his hands, allowing him to score in a variety of ways. Despite lacking elite size and athleticism, he’s really good at using deception and an arsenal of crafty moves to get to the rim, where he is an excellent finisher. Butler is a very good shooter as well, and he improved his percentage from three point range as a sophomore despite attempting almost three more triples per game compared to his freshman year.
His improved outside shooting really helped open things up for Butler, as defenders had to respect his three ball and he was able to use that to advantage to get into the lane and make plays for himself and his teammates.
Jared Butler’s assist numbers don’t wow you (3.1 per game in 2019-20), but he has great vision and is an excellent passer. Butler always keeps his head up when he has the ball, allowing him to find the open man in transition and in half court sets. He also does a really nice job of advancing the ball in transition and simply not holding onto the rock for too long, something that many lead guards in college struggle with.
When you watch the tape on Butler, you’ll see a lot of his best passes resulting in missed shots, yet he just consistently makes the right decision. Butler split time as the primary ball handler for Baylor, so other top point guards who had the ball in their hands a lot more may have more assists and better assist-turnover ratios than Butler, but Butler’s IQ and decision making is on par with just about anyone in this draft class.
Not only is he a great floor general on the offensive end, but Butler is a very strong defender as well. On ball, he’s disciplined and has quick feet, allowing him to stay in front of most opposing guards. He’s an even better defender off-ball thanks to his awareness, energy, and terrific communication.
There are concerns that Butler won’t be as effective of a scorer at the next the level due to his below average explosiveness. A lot of his game is predicated on being able to penetrate and make plays, and he could struggle with that at the next level against quicker defenders. Players without elite first steps can still find a way to drive the ball consistently if they have elite athleticism, size, or strength, but Butler is just an average athlete and needs to bulk up. His jump shot and finishing ability should both translate to the next level, but it’s unclear if his play-making ability will as well.
Butler is likely going to play point guard at the next level, but as I mentioned above, he wasn’t always the guy bringing up the ball for the Bears and was more of a combo guard than a true point. This brings up question marks about how he fits at the next level, as he lacks the size to play the two and there’s a worry that he may not be fit to be a full time ball handler. While there is certainly reason to doubt his ability to play the one given his role in college, I think those doubts may be overblown and that Butler will be fine. He’s good enough of a ball handler and passer/decision maker to make it work, even if his explosiveness isn’t up to speed with typical NBA point guards.
One thing that I believe Jared Butler definitely needs to work on is getting stronger. He could add another 15-20 pounds on his frame, and bulking up would make it a lot easier for Butler to penetrate and finish in the lane against physical defenders. It would also make playing defense easier as well, as adding strength will prevent bigger guards from picking on Butler in the post and make him more capable of guarding bigs off of switches.
This time a year ago, Jared Butler wasn’t even on the NBA draft radar. Now he’s in a good position to make an NBA roster if he decides to keep his name in the draft. I think Jared Butler has a clear role at the next level as a combo guard that can come off the bench and provide instant offense, while being a solid contributor on defense as well. I also think the question marks about Butler’s position will end up being a positive for him, as he’ll be able to be the lead guard or play off the ball.
Butler’s decision on whether or not to stay in the draft is a tough one, but I ultimately think he will keep his name in and turn pro. He displayed a ton of good stuff this season and is a pretty polished player, so I don’t think going back to school will improve his stock a whole lot. Butler looks like a second round pick right now, but there is so much uncertainty after the top 25 or so prospects that he could go anywhere from early second to undrafted. As we’ve seen in recent years with the likes of Fred VanVleet and Ky Bowman, going undrafted isn’t an NBA death sentence anymore, so even if that happens to Jared Butler I don’t think he’ll have any trouble making a team’s roster next season.